Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Couple of Notes from Today on the Campaign Trail

Today I've witnessed two rather blatant examples of the kind of character assassination and ordinary meanness that has come to characterize politics and this campaign:

First, Barack Obama is taking part of two days off from campaigning to go to Hawaii. Now when I first heard this as a headline I thought, "Wow". Then a few minutes later I heard the details. He is going to visit his grandmother - the woman who virtually raised him - at her home. She has been ill lately, and broker her hip just last week.

So how does this show rancorous campaign behavior? Well, think about the headline I heard. It made the trip sound like a vacation, when it is indeed anything but a vacation. But it got worse. During the day I have read and heard comments and questions speculating about whether the trip is a political stunt to make Obama look more human and less detached, or whether he would be visiting his grandmother if he wasn't well ahead in the polls. That people are so focused on defeating the opponent, using every action or statement if a way to use it to discredit can be found. All that needs to be said about Senator Obama's visit to his grandmother is that he is taking two days to spend with his seriously ill grandmother. Period.

Second, I happened upon this gem from Malia Lazu, a Democratic strategist who was appearing on Neil Cavuto's show:

"If you have been lucky, to achieve your dream and it is a lot larger than everyone else, then as an American you should want to babies learn how to read, go to doctors and have schools."

This is an example of a couple things in my mind. Just look at the language she chose to use and you'll see some demagoguery and a clear indication that she views anyone who succeeds financially as having taken advantage of someone to do so. She also manages to use the royal 'should', to tell us that if we are decent people we must view this as she does. Here's what we learn from that brief remark:

1. People who succeed financially are 'lucky'.

2. People who achieve a dream that is a lot larger than everyone else (this tells us that the success described here is excessive).

3. If you are decent, a decent American you should (must) want to pay more taxes for the benefit of others.

4. The demagoguery comes last, where she takes a discussion of what sort of tax policy is best, fair, etc. and introduces the welfare of 'babies'. In other words, if you don't agree with her, even though she has made it clear that decent Americans should, then you must be against babies being educated and healthy.

Nauseating. If I had started out agreeing with her I would have to fight myself not to change my opinion just to avoid being linked in any way with this statement and the beliefs it reveals. She later went on to say that people who have made money have done so "on the backs of others".

So on the one hand, there are people who cannot help themselves and must question whether Obama visiting his ailing Grandmother is a political stunt, while on the other hand we are told that if we don't agree with raising taxes on the highest earners we support sick and uneducated babies. See why I hate the way politics are making us behave? Coarse, base, judgmental and, as Dana Carvey might say, "just a wee bit superior."

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